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YEREVAN, October 6 (Itar-Tass) —— French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was hopeful that Armenia and Turkey would start normalising their relations shortly.
“The Protocols on establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border between Turkey and Armenia aroused many hopes. This reconciliation process has reached a deadlock today, which I deeply regret,” Sarkozy said in an interview with the Mediamax news agency ahead of his visit to Yerevan to begin on Thursday, October 6.
In his opinion, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan “exhibited wisdom and foresight saying the next day after one of our meetings in Paris that Armenia is ready to ratify the Protocols when Turkey is ready for it. I hope the process will resume soon”.
Sargsyan said earlier that the “current stage in the normalisation of relations with Turkey has been exhausted” and decreed to suspend the ratification of the protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations with Ankara following Turkish claims that the normalisation of relations should be conditioned on the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.
“Turkey is not ready to continue the commenced process and go ahead without preliminary conditions and in compliance with the spirit and letter of the protocol,” the president said, adding that the reasonable time for ratification had passed.
Sargsyan said a year had passed since the joint statement of Armenia, Turkey and Switzerland that called for normalisation of relations between Yerevan and Ankara.
The president said Armenia adhered to the normalisation efforts and occupied constructive positions. “We have stated that if Turkey ratifies the protocols without preconditions and in a reasonable time it would be impossible for the Armenian parliament to deny ratification,” he said.
“Now it is time to assess what we mean by 'reasonable time' and 'without preconditions'. During the year there was no lack of public statements from high-level Turkish officials made in the language of preliminary conditions. During the year Turkey did everything to drag time. Therefore, our conclusions and positions are unambiguous,” Sargsyan said.
The presidential decree followed the demand of the ruling coalition to remove the issue of ratification from the agenda. “The political majority in the National Assembly of Armenia regards as unacceptable the statements of the Turkish side over the past few days, including those by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, that link the ratification of Armenian-Turkish protocols by Turkish parliament with the settlement of the conflict between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan,” it said in a statement.
Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said earlier his country was ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions.
He described as “nonsense” closed borders in the 21st century.
“We hope that Turkey will be consistent in settling Armenian-Turkish relations. I mean in particular the signed protocols, which boil down to that the two neighbouring countries intend to establish normal relations without preconditions. The position of Armenia has not changed over the past 20 years,” he said.
“We are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions. And the agreements that were reached with the Turkish side were based on this fundamental understanding of the situation,” the prime minister said.
“We will be happy if our Turkish colleagues come to this conclusion, that having close borders in the 21st century is nonsense,” he added.
“If the Turkish side is sincere in its desire to normalise relations with Armenia, it should take only one step and ratify and implement, without reservations, the protocols that were coordinated and signed by the two countries,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan said earlier, referring to the protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations and on the principles of relations between Armenia and Turkey.
“This is not only the position of Armenia. This is also the position of the international community,” the minister recalled and warned, “If Turkey counteracts with its own position and upsets the process, it will bear the full responsibility for that.”
Nalbandyan said that if Turkey did not seek to upset the normalisation of relations with Armenia, it should take real steps showing its readiness to ratify the implement the Armenian-Turkish protocols.
“If the Turkish side miscalculated its possibilities, it is the Turkish side's problem,” Nalbandyan said. “We began this process on the basis of mutual understanding that there can be no preconditions, and we continued the process on the basis of that mutual understanding and came to the signing of the protocols” on the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and on the development of these relations.
Armenia suspended the ratification of the protocols in April of 2010.
Armenian-Turkish protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations and on the principles of bilateral relations between the two countries were signed on October 12 in Zurich, Switzerland, by the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in the presence of the foreign ministers of Russia and France, Sergei Lavrov and Bernard Kouchner, as ell as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.